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tv   Open Phones with Robert Edsel  CSPAN  February 23, 2014 1:45am-2:46am EST

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edsel. how did you get started in this business? >> it wasn't my third >> how did you get started in this business? and. >> guest: i move to florence in 1996 studying art and architecture i walked over the only bridge not destroyed by the nazis and wondered how those treasures survived and who are the people that saved it? i did not know the answer but i was embarrassed that i've never wondered. people would say that is a great question. so its evolves out of curiosity. i could not have foreseen written three books and a major abortion pitcher and a foundation to continue their work but it is a privilege to represent these
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remarkable heroes and five of them were still living. >> why do you move to florence? >> i was in oil exploration business and had some success over 15 years. i was 39 years old id wanted something more meaningful but it was difficult to carve out space to break free of the gravitational pull. my son was two years old so it seemed like a great opportunity to take a break to learn about the noise i was always interested and here we are. >> what was your first career? the second was wheel? >> i did play in some qualifying tournaments it had a success but i could not be great so i had to let go of it.
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but tell me in ways it could not foresee at the time. that was difficult to let go of my identity. soviet was the great enthusiasm to take time off. >> where did you grow up? >> oak park illinois but most of my time in dallas. my parents for from oklahoma. i was educated there and went to several colleges. >> when we interested in art and history? >> of was always interested in history but my parents could take us on trips to expose us to museums i was always interested even though i did not understand anything about them. spending some time walking through churches but as a
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started to travel more as adults and once i became very i had more interest but not to understand through reading books but i've learned best of side of the classroom. i very tactile so i hired a professor to take to be around the city one day a week to show me these things through for eyes to learn in a very cayennes on way and it was a great experience why churches appeared to be the same my is one more important. europe was my a classroom and florence was my school. >> robert edsel is there a dollar figure you could put on stolen by the nazis? >> guest: as high as you
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want to make it. do we approach $1 trillion? the be. paintings today some selling at $200 million. what would happen if to vinci had came onto the market? maybe 300 million see you can get at $1 billion very quickly did you think with the salt mine they were finding 20,000 or 10,000 paging sort ancient library books so the numbers are staggering. >> how much is still missing? >> guest: this is an exercise of numbers. people like to deal with numbers that are so large that i think it makes them harder for the public to understand. i say hundreds of thousands of cultural objects.
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nazis stole anything with value tapestries, paintings, docum ents and in poland alone they have 60,000 works of art on their missing data base. so a few hundred thousand objects it is not a random number but some people accused of millions but it is hard. we will begin with a call
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from new york. >> caller: good morning. i read. [inaudible] talking about lincoln buying degenerate art so can you speak to the circumstances? it may have been germany or sweden. can you tell me? >> one of the great things i have learned is to speak passionately about the things i know about and be quick to say i don't know that. i cannot help you with that. >> did the nazis take great care or could they care less? >> guest: you have a of a range in the earlier days when they were in control there was some degree of
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care that was confiscated intended for hitler's collection but when the mass removal from people's homes in the east and the homes are destroyed, and no. there is not care there. in the west of the jews apartments are due to then they are piled up. is a paradox of lot of it did survive because as of being stored in the salt mines they survived if they might not have otherwise so there is mindy paradox in this story. >> maryland. >> caller: they key for the great work you have done. with the national gallery of art i believe they currently have an exhibit timed to
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coincide with the movie. over 15 years i have been troubled with the national gallery of art because it turns back in the 1980's they put on an exhibition of art works on loan that included some works that were looted by the nazis it was a collection of art of impressionist paintings by the swiss industrialist. once it came out the national gallery never addressed it progress has never apologized. it would just bury its head in the sand like a fosterage. now they claim they're so concerned but are you familiar with that issue? to you have suggestions to put pressure that could be applied to have them
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addressed the issue? >> we got the point. >> guest: i don't know about that collection i have a little bit of knowledge but this is a long time ago. the issue of providence that is a fancy way to save who owned a previously now since the late 1990's led to see any point to go back to school in the gallery of what happened in debt '80s. i don't think that what happened today and we should focus calling for word to solve the problems we can fix and that is the work of the monuments men foundation is for. >> by history students at alcorn state are assigned to watch the movie. what do you think of it?
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>> guest: it is fantastic in their respective is a huge lead challenging subjects not tackled before on the big screen that the major story we have not seen on the big screen. it is a daunting task to -- task the officers never really were in one place together so there had to be adjustments but i think there was a good job of capturing the overarching principles. people though it was american and british led not done before, the historic orders by eisenhower to pave the way, millions of cultural objects were found found, they risk their lives during combat, is a noble up the story and some will leave no way if they want to know the details it is in my
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book. >> or your web site. >> the foundation has a tremendous amount of interracial in an end to biographies of the men and women from 13 nations. lot of photographs some are in rescuing to vinci but also the other box and information we could not include. >> to events both at the white house this past week. you were there for a screening? >> we were invited george clooney was nice enough to include me in their youngest officer who is 88 years old and was invited to a private screening at the white house with president obama who made a point to had time for a visit and it was a great opportunity for harry. one of the few people who has been to the white house
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twice under to sitting presidents and then the can we prepare for bush. >> the next call is from south carolina this is from martha? >> caller: hello peter. because i went out and bought his book years ago and did you have stolen my thunder peter with a price list and the cost and the value of the arch. it is priceless just as life and the movie portrays that. i imagine there were more lives lost. my question robert edsel, a thank you for your works
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since the age of 39, i had a feeling the movie was like a fraternity party atmosphere even though the location of the artwork was superb i am glad this story is out. i want to know the rest of the story about madonna. >> that is the only sculpture to leave italy during his lifetime and it was one of the focused pieces september 1944. such an illustrated situation human nature with the allies that the nazis when it turned and run but still things have not been acquired yet. there is a group of nazis that go to the church to
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wrap up of madonna in a mattress that was this a mattress that the monuments men found in the salt mine the following year. it is taken out and ultimately taken to the assaults by but one of the key pieces british officer was trying to find 20 was killed. >> texas. good morning you were on with author robert edsel. >> caller: i cannot wait to see your movie but i saw a movie years ago with burt lancaster called the train and it was all about them trying to get the stolen art from the germans. was that based on the same thing that you talk about? >> guest: a much smaller
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story. a fine film based of the great french heroine is a booker -- a book. and she is a remarkable woman we have recently translated a wonderful book written about her that is out there. . . concord and worked under the united states states -- the eyes of the nazis. she's making secret notes and digging through trash cans, ultimately, she turned over to an officer really a treasure map to go find these things. the story that's told in "the train," very, very briefly, i mean, in a matter of a few minutes, introduces rose, and then it really becomes a tete-a-tete between the french resistance and this fictitious
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german character trying to get the works of art on the last train back into germany. in fact, this last train never leaves paris, it just goes in a circle around and around the center of the city. but, you know, it's a fun movie, and it certainly raises a few of the same issues. >> host: prior to the german invasion of these european nations, did they take steps to protect their art? >> guest: yeah, and, in fact, i try and mention this in all three of my books, "saving italy," i spend a lot of tomb talking about the art superintendents and volunteers in all these cities. in "saving italy" the book really begins to one scene we loaned to the film about the near destruction of "the last supper" by allied bombing, and had it not been for the protective measures taken in 1940 just on the what-if chance that a bomb might fall somewhere near the dining hall containing this, then we wouldn't have any da vinci code. we'd all know about "the last
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supper" from art u.s.ly books because it would have been obliterated. a ball blasts out the east wall of the dining hall, and the painting's exposed to the elements for almost two years, only saved because there was scaffolding and poles bracing the wall. so this is a miraculous near disaster that this masterpiece of western civilization was almost lost by bombing on our side. >> host: what about the louvre? was it pretty much and did it stay intact? >> guest: well, the building did, but the french artificials knowing -- knowing the invasion of poland bins -- begins, they start the evacuation of works of art taken to french chateaus out in the countryside. this was the standard procedure. it happened in florence, removal of works to some 38 tuscan villas. the great concern was bombing by the allies destroying the
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museums or other cultural treasures inside the cities. the problem gets stickier once the allied invasions begin in particular in italy and sicily and nap ls. because in the case of florence, the museum officials didn't have the vehicles. the nazis had confiscated them. they couldn't get them from the villas back into the city, and there they are safe from allied bombing, but in the middle of ground warfare. it was a perilous situation, and ultimately, the removal by iss forces taking these things on the basis they were supposedly safeguarding them. >> host: susan is calling from springfield, missouri. you're on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: hi. thank you guys for being there. my question is about, like, christian art? forgive me, i haven't had a chance to read your book, so i'm new to all this. but i just wonder especially in iraq and places where there might be more religious, you
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know, type p artifacts and so forth, if they were destroyed on purpose because of obvious reasons that people don't want the world to know that anything else exists besides what they believe in. i just wondered if your research has, you know, turned up anything about those kinds of issues. >> guest: well, one of the things that the monuments men foundation is doing, we're, of course, trying to raise worldwide visibility. that's why the george clooney film is so important, because no book can accomplish what this film can do. it's going to be opening in some 100 countries around the world. so that's a great chance for people not only to know the story of the monuments men, but also to know the heroic role that the united states-led effort played in saving some of these things. this isn't religious art versus christian art, islamic art, it's not really segregated that way. adolf hitler and the nazis feel
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anything of value, sometimes jewish collectors who collected the great things that were available to be acquired. the monuments officer, likewise, rescued whatever had been stolen or head the attempt to do that. in iraq the great tragedy for our country was followed in the aftermath of the looting of the national museum and the other cultural treasures there. we did not make protection of the cultural treasures if iraq in 2003 -- in iraq in 2003 following the invasion a target. we paid a horrible price in the court of world opinion, and it's one of the works of the monuments men foundation to reestablish that high standard. we need, ultimately, the president of the united states who's our ceo of the enterprise, of the country, to come forward and restate what general eisenhower did: protection and respect for the works of art of other people is important, and that's the policy of the united states. >> host: brian perry tweets in to you, mr. edsel," the monuments men" movie was fun, but is there an in-depth
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documentary in the works? >> guest: we're having discussions about that. we worked with national geographic and fox to make a one-hour documentary which show inside conjunction with the are release of the film and also in europe. it's, obviously, a big story. it's, you know, up until this point in time it hasn't been told for a variety of reasons. it's taken years of my effort to get these three books written and more books forthcoming in the future. so i hope that we'll have a chance to do that. i hope what we see is a feature film on "saving italy." it's a remarkable story, and it's a very different kind of problem, because italy is a partner of nazi germany the first three years of the or war. and it presents all sorts of different problems and a completely different cast of officers. >> host: we just showed the covers, but i want to ask about "saving italy." what is this photograph on the cover? >> guest: it's a remarkable photograph we found pretty well into our research of the david,
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certainly one of the three most well known works of art. and you think about the story between the mona lisa and the louvre which is moved on fife separate occasions -- five separate occasions, "the last supper" and david. i mean, the three most famous works of art are at ground zero of the story. the david couldn't be moved out of the academia because of the size and weight, so the local art officials entombed it in brick. the great concern that the ceiling would collapse and destroy the david. dean keller is arriving into the academia, he's standing there watching as the local officials are removing the brick to expose the david for the first time in republican three years. >> host: and on the cover of rescuing da vinci -- >> guest: yeah, here again we see another masterpiece by leonardo da vinci that is, you
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know, it's funny, we think of photo ops as a modern-day invention. here's a great example of 1945 -- 1946, actually, the monuments officers are standing in front of a train outdoors holding in this painting with their bare hands. they've removed it from the crate. it's one painting on one train car of about 26 train cars filled with stolen works of art from poland, and they're returning it. they've just now arrived in warsaw to get this painting back at the charter rescue museum. >> host: matthew in tacoma, washington, you are on with robert edsel. >> caller: hi. i was wondering if you found much out about the porcelain factories, the great porcelain factories in your book, in france especially and then also the -- [inaudible] factories in germany, if much of that was destroyed? also i was wondering who your favorite tennis player is and who you prefer, fellowederer or nadal? >> guest: what was the last
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part? >> host: didn't catch the last part. but if you want to answer the tennis question, more importantly. >> guest: with the things that are missing today, we have to deal in the done text of what's portable and what's not and also degree of fragility. works of art that were porcelain, so many of those things destroyed, coins melted. if a painting rolled up weighed 200 pounds, you know, one person's not lugging that around. so most of the things we're going to find are going to be things which a soldier could take home as a souvenir, put under their jacket, ship home. those are the things i think we'll see more and more of. favorite tennis player ever, rob labor, a great friend. really remarkable guy. >> host: he was a lefty. >> guest: he was. he was a role model for me about the importance of hard work and discipline. >> host: glenn, waldwick, new jersey. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hi. thank you, c-span, for having me
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on. in the last segment, there was discussion of creating a commission perhaps to oversee the issues of the politics and all the other problems that occur when -- [inaudible] what are your thoughts, mr. edsel, on the creation of such a commission and who should be on it, how should it function with authority, should it be given that kind of thing? i'll hang up for your answer, thank you. >> guest: well, that a presumes i agree we should have one without, you know, before getting into all the details and how it should be set up. you know, this idea of having kind of a master commission to oversee some of the restitution issues has been kicked around. it's a complicated issue. i don't know that that's the best solution. what i believe is the approach we should be taking is to raise awareness about this, because i think this story has been stuck with art historians and some scholars, and it hasn't been
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available to the broad public in a way that's been accessible to everybody. and i've tried to write about it the way i learned about it. i didn't have any background or training on it, but i spent a lot of years studying it, a lot of years interviewing some 17 monuments officers and maybe a hundred of their kids over the course of time, finding letters they'd written home during the war, many of which we'd not seen. i reallity that the court of public opinion, that's the most powerful court in the world, and that is the one that i think is going to carry the day in reestablishing the standards. because people in government and in the state department k defense department, they pay attention to what voters know. voters go see movie, read books and, of course, legislators read books too. and i think as we understand more about story, i believe that the answer in many ways is simple. there's no passage of time that should change the character of a theft. that's the law in the united states. if we can determine there's a work that belongs to somebody and it was stolen from them, i don't think that it should matter it's 60 years it's taken
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us to find that out. it should be returned, and that, i think, is the law in the united states. there have been efforts to make modifications, but i think that's what we need to get back to. >> host: if you can't get through on the phone line, contact us via social media. @booktv is our twitter handle, facebook.com/booktv or ap e-mail, booktv@cspan.org. and from our facebook page is this question from girish, and i apologize if i've mispronounced that name. question for mr. edsel: while we all agree stolen art should be returned, how far back in history should we go? for instance, should the elgin stones returned to greece and the peacock throne returned to india? also how do you respond to the argument that taking the rosetta stone protected it from local thieves or just neglect? >> guest: i new that's a great question. my view is that it's a slippery
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slope when we start going back before world war ii and start reevaluating how things have shown up in different museums. i think we can proud about the fact, for instance, here at the national gal ru of art here in washington the works of art have either been donated or acquired through funds donated to the national gallery, and there is no war art there, war -- art that's come in as a result of the united states fighting a war somewhere. but the united states is a much younger country. we know in england, in france works of art in the louver, works of art and the v and a in london, many of these things were acquired through conquest in more colonial times. 1945, in my way of thinking, is really a sea change going forward. there is a unesco law of 1970 that prohibits the removal of cultural objects from countries without permits and that kind of thing, but i really think 1945 is when de facto that all
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begins. because western allies have under their control five million cultural objects that they have found in salt mines and caves and castles, five million. about a million of which belong to german museums or german collectors, the german museums or damaged or destroyed, so the united states and great britain forces are custodians of these works of art until they can rebuilt. the four million objects that are stolen are returned to various countries. that's a sea change of how wars have been bought before. but i think it's also the beginning of the end of colonialism. the suez canal changes hands, many of the black african countries start to gain independence. and i think from 1945 on we know it's not okay to go into countries and remove works of art. that's what a portion of that war was fought about. but to try and go back and rewind the tapes and look at the bust offer iftity or these other things, i think it's a complicated problem. i know these are deeply emotional top you cans. i lived in europe for five years, and i know people around
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the world how emotive they get in discussing these topics. and do i do think there should be discussions between these countries, perhaps loan arrangements worked out. but i think some legislation to address this thing is a mistake. >> host: wilhelm asks via facebook: when the nazis stole the artworks, who became the new owner? the goth, individual nazis or the community? are there transfer titles? >> guest: no, there aren't really transfer titles. look, the nazis went to extraordinary lengths to try and make all of their looting legal. they were very, very conscientious about that in some of the countries of the west. adolf hitler having agents that are making acquisitions of works of art, often times distressed sales. of course, there's things that are just out and out stolen, but there was an effort to try and pass laws that stripped jews as an example of their ownership rights to try and, again, make these things look legal. it was a preposterous argument
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made by alfred rosenberg, one of the chief defendants at the nuremberg trials that we went into these jews' apartments, some 77,000, and nobody was will, so we just took the works of art to safe them. of course not, they'd loaded them up on trains and sent them to concentration camps. these are really hard to imagine events when we read these documents that people keep a straight face and say these things in a courtroom, but they did. so i think that you're not going to find record title or something to document the acquisition of these works of art, and in some cases that makes it more difficult. there are nazi inventory card codes that do evidence the acquiring of these works of art, theft. they're not a legal ownership title, but they document how these works of art are acquired, photographed, inventoried, codes assigned to the families indicating what number of object it is from the families, and those documents were found by
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the monuments men and were used at the nuremberg trials ask very, very important in helping to return these object toss the people they were stolen from. .. liz: terry, please go ahead with your question or comment for jeff bezos. >> caller: i was wondering if you had any opinion on the art work and obvious destruction that the catholic church has
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perpetrated over the centuries to art works and if they should be held accountable? peter: we have more immediate problems in places like syria where we seek works of art, these things belong to all of us and should be a concern for all of us about seeing them destroyed by both sides in this horrible civil war. there are things under threat in cairo and molly. these challenges are a challenge that aren't going to go away. to try to go back as i mentioned earlier to one of the other viewers's questions and a dressing over the centuries, not a task when monument men was engage in. to go about standards in world war ii and cultural treasures today. liz: we identified u.s. co-author of libor because you wrote it with britt witter.
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>> he is a fine writer, accomplished new york times best-selling writer, number of books since then, worked with me and the research was a daunting and the race against time to write the story, and monuments officers' who went with us. the monuments officers' i interviewed, five living, and to make sure their story is available and known to everybody and brett played an important part of getting the book written. rich: did these men recognize what they were doing? peter: they didn't understand the magnitude. they were also segregated, working in their own little areas and little interaction with monuments officers'. they were not necessarily seeing
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their reports, they were channeled through eisenhower's headquarters. they felt proud of the individual roles, but it has taken the passage of time to understand how extensive and pervasive this theft was, this industrial scale looting operation, and works of art today had such a dramatic increase in monetary value and not necessarily a positive development but quite real. i looked at anonymously with money. people talk about art as part of their portfolio and this is a more modern development. the monuments officers' played any central role in the survival of these things and i don't think until more recent times they have looked at it that way. very simply what they say is like world war ii veterans this is our responsibility, we did our job the best we could.
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liz: an e-mail, i worked for several years in art and history museums in this pacific northwest and one story i heard from several people in both fields was about a monument man who withheld a trove of prince which he later parlayed into a position for himself as a curator at regionally prominent museum, donating his print collection as grid quote pablo. without naming anyone dino of any instances? peter: i don't and i would be interested. monumentmenfoundation.org, we will take a look at it. liz: next call from and in frankfurt, ky. >> caller: i enjoyed seeing the movie last weekend looking forward to reading your book. if you years ago i heard about a soldier who returned a valuable piece of art to the united
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states while he was there. he may send it in shipments and i think it was kept -- after his death his family returned it. do we know of other traces of military men who spirited away artifacts? are their suspicions other may have been? >> no question soldiers from all sides including the united states picked up cultural objects as souvenirs. sometimes they took them deliberately. they were not supposed to. there were rules against that. is one of the reasons the foundation created this toll-free number, 866-world war ii are, the foundation serves the clearing house, kids my age that might have had about world war ii veteran, a marine corps veteran in the pacific, a chance for people to call if they find something in their attic or basement.
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we have the passage of all this world war ii generation and all these objects have new owners, could inherit them, often they want to sell them but a lot of things besides paintings are important historical documents. the monuments men foundation recovered a number of documents that were donated national archives and one of the german archives albums filled with photographs of works of art, albums in his position, look through like a mail-order catalog to decide which ones he wanted to have in his museum. i am not as focused on how stuff got back here as i am on what we should do. i don't care if a soldier took says something, we should honor them for their service and recover these things and get them back to their rightful owners. there was a case, the when you are alluding to in 1980, early 90s, where an american soldier, not a monuments' man but a soldier deliberately took important relics out of the
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church in germany, brought them home and after repasts, his state had them, attempted to sell them. ultimately these works were returned to germany. that was a precedent in a setting case, we know now today that these works can be sold. there are serious flaws in this country, the national stolen property act prohibiting sales of works of art or cultural objects that have been stolen. the monuments men foundation doesn't charge anybody, we are not for profit, we are there to amate that have home and work with people to do the right thing. liz: courtney asks did the nazi salute historical artifacts from the vatican and if so what was taken and did we get it back? peter: the story of the close call of the vatican is a significant part of my most recent book, saving italy. there were orders issued by hitler, very outraged, upon
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mussolini's disappearance in august of 1943. hitler was convinced that the vatican had played a role in -- he hated the vatican anyway, hated the pope, pope pius xii and issued ordered to this fascinating character we have not studied much in a lot of literature which i talk a lot about in saving italy. carl wolf is sent to italy, he is the co leader of german forces along with alfred kesselring, his order from hitler is to go into the vatican, all the documents, enormous history that is there, and kidnapped, one german general testified at nuremberg, kill pope pius xii. this is a really bad idea, he spent time over the next four or five months trying to negotiate with the fuhrer and the different approach of dealing with this. this is something that is debate
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among historians today whether hitler was serious and intended to carry this out or one of the periodic outbursts. we can document it was discussed and given to wolf. the vatican was not reached in that sense. there were german troops that formed a cordon or ring around it. the vatican played an important role protecting the works of art in italy because ultimately after a number of relocations to different hiding places, the italians felt the only safe place for the works of art was inside the vatican and the pope issued an invitation for these works of art to come in and be placed safely to so that is where they were when the monument officers arrived. liz: we got a tweet from@monumentsmen, is that your official twitter handle? they tweeted in a question. someone did. has libor ever received awards for their work? >> the monuments men have not.
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it is something we have been working at. the individuals received in a few instances decorations from foreign countries right after the war. one of the first things we did after forming the monuments men foundation was to get congressional resolutions in both houses, fairly easy, and complicated process that now we're working on the congressional gold medal and we have the bill in congress and trying to obtain signatures. is a difficult thing to obtain. and obtain signatures from both houses. we have the support of senator blunt and mendez in the senate, congresswomen kay granger taking the lead, we have 100 signatures in the house about a dozen in the senate, i want to see these men and women honored while they're still alive. there's one woman who is british, four american men, it
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is important to us to say thank you while we can do and have them be there to receive this honor. liz: in 2007 they did get a medal from president bush. >> the national humanities medal was awarded to the monuments men foundation and weaver surprise, incredibly honored. i was particularly pleased the president allow us to have four monuments officers' be present but to underscore the point two of the monuments officers' that ritter that they are not with us today. liz: what is the holdup in congress? >> the bill was introduced late in november. we had recess. i don't think it is running behind per se, but i think all of these things get done because there is some obsessive person pounding the table saying listen to me, this is important, we got to get this done now. i am going to be back there and we're going to get the signatures. this is important to do. general eisenhower thought this
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was important enough that he issued an important directive that had never been done before that stated the policy and importance of protection of cultural treasures not just once in december '43 began in may in western europe and i think that really is, speaks volumes about why these monuments men and women should be recognized in the most formal and appropriate way. >> host: about 15 minutes with our guest. irene is calling from sausalito, calif.. >> caller: it is admirable what you are doing. i think it is wonderful but i have a question. it crossed my mind when you were talking about how far back into history. the question that popped into my mind was there were a lot of japanese incurred during world war ii. i have a friend who lost the family for.
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lots of things were complicated and then returned to. i was curious what you have to say about that. >> there are a lot of stories about looting in asia theater, pacific theater, europe, western europe and eastern europe and i wish we could find everything that was taken. is particularly difficult with military objects like that that were in some cases considered legal spoils of war which is not something the monument men foundation works on. we focused on cultural object which is not to say a sort of like the one you mentioned isn't very important personal belongings. when we get into these smaller religious objects it is difficult to locate those things because in many cases they are
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small, they don't have identification marks on them. paintings tend to have more information, having been published in books or show up in options and might have an inventory code on them. not the people are looking for a painting or sculpture, just that a lot of times those have more identification marks for us to locate and determine the owner. >> host: has any effort been made by the monuments men to identify russian objects that were looted by germans from the eastern front and that subsequent story told? >> guest: the situation is complicated. we in the united states lost 400,000 men and women during world war ii, soviet union lost 25 million. the policy to the extent that it was formalized was removal not just of works of art but
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everything from germany, they needed everything. there were trophy brigades' by stalin with specific instructions not only to take works of art but also disassemble factories and things like that. the soviets returned several million objects to germany in 1950 -- 1955-56 as a sign of good faith and getting these things back to the museums in dresden and berlin but there are things that were there, things that at the our message museum in petersburg and are prominently displayed, some of the world's great impressionist works that the full the intend to keep at this stage. it is not a museum decision. it is the government's decision. i think there are hundreds of thousands of objects that belong to germany, poland in former soviet countries and i am sure
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there are things like in our country that no one necessarily knows where they are. this is a challenge. it is an open cultural -- between germany and russia. the former soviet countries and something that passage of time is going to have to continue to move forward and allow these countries to work together to solve this. >> host: barbara in jacksonville, fla.. >> hello. i wanted to tell you how much i am enjoying this program but i also wanted to point out to the commentator i am enjoying robert edsel but the commentator might be interested in a book that was written by peter bogdanos. he has the district attorney in new york city. they sent him to baghdad, iraq, in 2004, to investigate the looting of that library.
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what they found out was, this is also a nonfiction book incidentally. >> guest: when did this come out? >> caller: and i believe 2004. it is a nonfiction. >> host: it is matthew, not peter. >> caller: matthew? i beg your pardon. anyway, the title is fiend's from baghdad, nonfiction, and it is a marvelous book about how he found out all of the terrible publicity about all the things that were destroyed, looted and lost was not correct. some were lost but they were all returned. he would be an excellent interview on booktv. >> host: that is familiar. >> guest: a lot of
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mischaracterizations. he is a great patriot, he went in in 2003, it wasn't his fault. he was trying to fix problems and identify how many works of art have been looted and finally get them back. others participated, koren weiner, an important monuments woman in 2004, part of those teams and not the national museum that was looted but the national library, important archives. there were initial reports of 250,000 objects taken. turned out there was more 15,000, about half have been found and returned through efforts, he wrote in his book about this. he didn't have any knowledge of the monuments men even though he was over there carrying out the role they played which underscored the importance of why this story about monuments
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clinton needs to be told and why i have been so excited to share it with everybody because it is a story that is near and dear to all our hearts. his book is an interesting book but there is a lot to the story. not with looting of works of art but the damage is done with the appearance of the united states, with people around the world seems that we didn't care about these cultural treasures, some even accuse us of not caring because they were not judeo-christian in nature which was nonsense. wasn't a priority target it should have been because we didn't know about the legacy we inherited from world war ii. >> host: i know this isn't your area of expertise the we're coming upon hundred anniversary of world war i. was there any effort or wide scale looting in world war i? >> guest: there was certainly damage to cultural treasures and
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i right about that in saving it lee because the monument fine arts and archive section was not the first time this ever been done. actually another of the paradoxes, the first formalized effort to protect works of art was a german effort in world war i but it happened not in anticipation of war but in reaction to deliberate destruction of a library, a german scholars were called in to try to advise the german military to minimize future such instances but it was a different scale than we saw in world war ii and the leadership of the united states and great britain transformed and mitigate damage to cultural treasures. >> host: susan from florence rights thank you for making this story available to the world. after seeing the movie and reading your book we now want to go to europe to see the safeguard and monuments. the way you we've the history of
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war with preservation of historical sites makes the book, street for all -- how much of the lost art has been returned to the family? >> much of it has. the rothschilds have resources and attorneys when the monuments officers' worshiping works of art back to france to make sure they recover their family belongings but there are multiple rothschild family's in europe, different branches and so there are many things missing but they turned, they were more fortunate than many other families. i think for susan and others that love this story and admire the monuments men and women they can help us honor them, visit monumentsmenfoundation.org, put there zip code in and it will generate an automatic message to their members of congress and the senate asking them to support this congressional gold medal bill, something that doesn't take but a minute of their time and is a great way to honor these clinton and women. >> host: our previous caller,
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booktv covered mr. baghdado's book. go to booktv.org, type in his last name in the quarter, in the left-hand corner where it says search, type in his last name and you will find the program and watch it on line. nagy in new york city, thanks for holding. you are on with robert edsel. >> caller: i was calling because i am curious about a recent news article in a munich apartment house, about 1400 pieces of art that have been stolen and his father was an art dealer working with the nazis and i have seen a second article, in a country house, more pieces have been discovered. this wasn't made news until it was leaked to a magazine two
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years after the fact of the discovery. i am curious about your take on what is unfolding with this story. >> guest: is the real hairball, at a lot of problems. there are some mental issues. there is speculation on the part of some people, who was 12 years old at the end of the war. and these works of art, something he did. his father was part of jew, he was one of the art dealers, one of the art dealers that was selected by the nazis, one of four key dealers to move works of art that have been removed by hitler's and devil's orders from german museums, it was considered degenerate and some of the works of art in this
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collection are works in german museums and that is a complicated case the likes of which we haven't seen on this scale before. some of the works of art appear to have been purchased in art markets, they may be for sale. there have been a few works of art that have been identified as highly suspect of having been stolen. more work needs to take place. the germans's mistake was to allow this to be treated as a tax matter by tax officials for the first two years and only disclosed when reporters got wind of it and the germans came out and discussed it. by then the court of public opinion back to the power of that had cast them in a bad light for not grabbing hold of this and seeing what an explosive topic it was. more times have to pass to what identify what these works of art. numbers are speculated, 1 billion euros are ridiculously too high. in particular no one has seen the works of art, the tab complete list of the works of art, how anyone can come up with
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a value, pretty divine guess at this stage but they're worth a lot of money. is a case that needs to be resolved and bringing visibility to this statute of limitations problem in germany limiting a period of 30 years that is going to have to be revisited and this in the process of being discussed. there's a lot to come on this, an interesting story that underscore is that a lot of works of art from world war ii are out there and beginning to show a. >> host: bridget in washington d.c.. >> caller: i want to say i think the work the monuments men foundation does is amazing and i appreciate it. earlier it you mentioned questions of ownership prior to world war ii were slippery slope and i was curious to hear your opinion about repatriation especially for cultural objects belonging to indigenous communities which were often acquired by museums and universities in the west for
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nefarious and illegal means. >> guest: it is a broad question you are asking. we may be in some of the later innings to use a metaphor here of the nazi looted art question but we are in early discussion phases of the question of cultural property. people around the world, 95% of people outside the united states take matters of cultural property, acutely emotional subject. i think we are going to see as the third and four countries come to the table and become more part of the world economic community there are going to be discussions why many of their works of art are in their country and more developed countries and these discussions are going to take place. they are going to be emotional discussions in many instances and it is healthy that discussions take place. i think what the monument men story does is highlighted point in time that is a break where wars have been fought in the past that these things should go
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back to the countries from which they were taken and return to their rightful owners that this is something to be proud of for the role the united states had. >> host: i wonder if you remember the e-mail earlier asking about monuments men who may have confiscated, art has e-mail again. just looked at the roster. the man in question does not appear on the roster. the stories i heard come from reliable sources including some with connections to the particular museum. appears he was not a monuments' man but a soldier somewhere down the line who had access to a substantial number of pieces of artwork. you have a book here, any thought of conducting a tour? >> the monument to the foundation did that and is doing that. we call it in the footsteps of the monument to plant it is something we are going to be doing both to if we in 2015 and
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also to europe so that people can follow the stories as they took place in italy and follow the story in "the monuments men". we had monuments' officer accompany us when we went on the trip last year and one of the stops we made was the american cemetery to see the grave of walter hatchhouse and who was killed in combat. >> host: monumentsmenfoundation.org is the web site if your interested. here are robert edsel's books, rescuing da vinci, a beautiful picture book your interested in the works of art, saving italy came out this past year and of course "the monuments men," now a motion picture, 2009, thanks

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